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Game Report: Jaguars Defeat Cowboys 28-23 in Preseason Week 1

0812 Game Report Thumnail - Week 1

ARLINGTON, Tex. – It wasn't all perfect, but it sure wasn't bad overall.

It was 2023 Preseason Week 1 for the Jaguars – and as for the starters in the season's first work against another team, they left with an eight-point lead in what became a 28-23 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in front of an announced 81,204 at AT&T Stadium Saturday evening.

"Some good and some bad, obviously," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "Overall, a lot of things to clean up, but there are some positives we'll take a look at and build on."

The Jaguars' first-team offense left Saturday's game with 3:46 remaining in the first quarter, leading 8-0 after a short touchdown drive on their third – and final – series.

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, completed five of six passes for 36 yards in three series. He threw an interception deep down the left sideline on his first pass of the game and threw for scores on his last two attempts of the game.

"Whenever there's points on the board you want to win these games," Lawrence said. "Obviously it doesn't count for your record for the regular season, but just from a morale standpoint for the team, it's good."

The Jaguars' defense also left the game late in the first quarter, shutting out the Cowboys on two series and registering a sack.

The early eight-point lead came with help from a huge special teams play when wide receiver Tim Jones forced a fumble by Cowboys punt returner KaVontae Turpin that Jaguars cornerback Gregory Junior recovered at the Dallas 42.

Lawrence capped a six-play drive on the ensuing possession – the first-team offense's last of the night – with a nine-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Christian Kirk. The veteran receiver was crossing in the back of the end zone and open after Lawrence had good protection on the 4th-and-3 play.

Lawrence's last pass of the game came on the ensuing two-point conversion, which he completed to wide receiver Zay Jones for an 8-0 lead with 4:40 remaining in the first quarter.

"Everything, you want to be a winner," said rookie running back Tank Bigsby, who led Jaguars running backs with 52 yards rushing on nine carries. "You want to compete in everything and you want to win. We put the work in, in practice and we expect to come out and have it show on film and go out there and win."

The Jaguars' defense also registered a key turnover late in the first quarter, with Junior stripping backup running back Rico Dowdle at the Jaguars 2 and safety Daniel Thomas recovering at the Jaguars 1. The Jaguars' defense overall Saturday registered four sacks – nose tackle DaVon Hamilton in the first quarter, rookie pass rusher Yasir Abdullah and veteran defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter in the second quarter and rookie linebacker Ventrell Miller in the fourth quarter.

The Jaguars finished with two defensive takeaways, with rookie cornerback Christian Braswell intercepting Cowboys quarterback Will Grier late in the fourth quarter.

"The last couple years, I think we've only won one preseason game, so it's nice when you can win these games – especially when your depth plays well like they do today," Lawrence said. "It gives everybody confidence. It's nice for us to see that and to be able to finish games because these are real situations that come up throughout the season. 

"To see those guys handle them and play well under pressure it's great to see."

Step by Step:

  • Mistakes hurt the Jaguars' first-team offense early, with Cowboys safety Juanyeh Thomas intercepting a deep pass down the left sideline from Lawrence to tight end Evan Engram on the game's second offensive play to end the first possession. Hamilton's sack after a blitz by safety Andre Cisco helped end the Cowboys' first possession. The Jaguars' second possession was hurt by a holding penalty on rookie tight end Brenton Strange and ended with Cooke's punt that Turpin fumbled, leading to Lawrence's touchdown pass to Kirk.
  • Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard's two-yard run gave the Jaguars a 14-0 lead with 7:41 remaining in the half. A 34-yard run from the Jaguars 12 by rookie running back Tank Bigsby and a 42-yard reception by veteran receiver Jacob Harris to the Cowboys 4 on a pass from Beathard gave the Jaguars keyed the six-play, 88-yard drive. Cowboys reserve quarterback Will Grier's 17-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jalen Tolbert with :17 remaining in the second quarter cut the Jaguars' lead to 14-7 at halftime.
  • A 29-yard field goal by Cowboys kicker Brandon Aubrey with 8:34 remaining in the third quarter cut the Jaguars' lead to 14-10.
  • Rookie running back Deuce Vaughn's three-yard run with 13:15 remaining gave Dallas a 16-14 lead. The Jaguars retook the lead on the ensuing possession when third-team quarterback Nathan Rourke's four-yard run and two-point pass to wide receiver Oliver Martin made it 22-16 with 8:53 remaining. Rourke extended the lead to 28-16 with a 21-yard touchdown pass to running back Qadree Ollison, a play on which Rourke narrowly avoided a would-be sack before passing to an open Ollison on the right side of the end zone. The Cowboys then cut the lead to the final margin when Grier passed 15 yards to tight end John Stephens with 2:16 remaining.

Notable: The full list of Jaguars players ruled out for Saturday's game:

  • Cornerback Tyson Campbell (concussion protocol)
  • Guard/center Tyler Shatley (atrial fibrillation)
  • Tight end Sammis Reyes (concussion protocol)
  • Outside linebacker Willie Taylor III
  • Middle linebacker Foye Oluokun (precautionary)
  • Abdullah played after being in the concussion protocol this past week
  • Defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot (Achilles) and right guard Ben Bartch (knee) remain on the Physically Unable to Perform list to start 2023 Training Camp

Injury report:

  • Jaguars long snapper Ross Matiscik sustained a shoulder injury in the first half and did not return.

Under the lights 💡 Swipe through to view live action shots as the Jaguars take on the Cowboys. 🏈

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